The 4 Golden Rules For Responding to Negative Reviews

Remember that first time you received a negative review on your product? How did you feel:  Wronged? Angry even? Suffice to say: It sucks when you get a negative review.

These feelings are understandable. You’ve put in a lot of hard work: selecting a great product to sell, choosing the right supplier, listing your product on Amazon – And now here’s this ugly negative review, potentially hurting your future revenue!

It’s a 1-star gravity bomb on your brand credibility:
A 1-star review sitting on your listing for over 3 days can have a harmful impact on your sales and conversion.

However, negative reviews are part of the Amazon game – and just like everything else in this business – you simply need to learn how to play. If you take appropriate action, you can mitigate the damage of a negative review. But if you act out of impulse, you may make things worse for yourself.

Just keep in mind 92% of consumers now read online reviews (BrightLocal) and studies have shown it takes 12 positive reviews to make up for one negative.

Ideally, you should contact the customer directly to see if you can resolve the issue. However, this is often not possible. Amazon doesn’t give sellers access to customers’ email addresses. And a customer’s pen name often doesn’t match the name used when placing the order.

Just keep in mind this general rule of thumb – it takes 12 positive reviews to make up for one negative.

Ideally, you should contact the customer directly to see if you can resolve the issue. However, this is often not possible. Amazon doesn’t give sellers access to customers’ email addresses. And a customer’s pen name often doesn’t match the name used when placing the order.

An alternative is contacting Amazon, asking them to remove the review. Don’t have your hopes up, though: Amazon almost never removes reviews. A customer needs to really be out of line, as in being abusive or threatening, for Amazon to remove his review.

So most of the time you’re stuck with the negative review on your product listing. Now what?

You have one more course of action: leave a comment under the review. If done well, you can mitigate the damage by showing you care and take negative reviews seriously. But if done wrong, you can do even greater damage to your conversion rate.

So what’s the best way to react to a negative review?

Amazon’s guidelines are a good place to start is to be:

  • Informative
  • Specific
  • Respectful

But that’s still pretty vague. So here’s another verified method for responding to negative reviews.

The 4 Golden Rules of Fixing Bad Reviews on Amazon

1. Act Quickly

Once a customer has left a negative review on your listing, you should read it as soon as possible in order to determine the best course of action.

AMZ Tracker’s Negative Review Monitoring tool is perfect for that. When you turn it on, you will immediately be notified whenever you receive a negative review on your listing.

Go ahead and log in to your AMZ Tracker account and check out the listing optimization tool now.

If you DON’T have an AMZ Tracker account, take advantage of the free trial here.

2. Show Empathy

Making a customer feel heard can go a long way. The customer wasn’t satisfied with your product. Before you even consider responding to their negative review, ask yourself: Have you ever bought something that didn’t meet your expectations? How did that make you feel?

Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes will put you in the right mindset. Taking a step back to reflect on this will help you overcome feelings of frustration or anger you may experience about receiving a negative review.

Speaking of which…

3. Keep Calm

The worst thing you can do is show any signs of negative emotion. This never helps, and even result in a heated discussion with the customer. It would be better to not respond at all.

There are numerous examples of sellers and also authors that have not been able to keep their cool after a negative review. Take for example the British author Alain de Botton. In response to an unfavorable by New York Times critic Caleb Crain, he wrote “I will hate you till the day I die”.

Do not do this.

Realize that when you comment on a negative review, it will show up on your product listing.
– For all to see.

Your main concern should not be to convince the customer that you are right and he is wrong. Your focus should be on damage control. How can you reduce the negative impact this review may have on your conversion rate?

Ultimately you are not just responding to this customer, but you are writing to all your potential customers.

If your comment is vindictive, potential customers will wonder: “How will you treat me if I don’t like your product, or even leave a negative review?” And they may decide to give your product a pass.

That’s why you should show empathy, keep calm, and address the issue (more on that below).

If you still find it difficult to keep your cool, consider that bad reviews may actually be good for business. Research by Revoo suggests that a few bad reviews give consumers a reason to believe all your good reviews. 68% trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, whereas 95% suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores.

4. Address the Issue

Finally, you will want to address the issue the customer is raising.

Was the product broken? Offer to send a new product.

Does the review say the product doesn’t work, but you think they are just using it wrong? Offer to do a 10 minute Skype call, so you can explain how to best use your product.

Again: Your focus should be on damage control. Convince your potential customers they should buy your product even though it has received a negative review.  

Think about it this way: Imagine you are visiting Rome for a holiday, and are craving gnocchi. So you go to Tripadvisor to find a good local restaurant. Now let’s say a restaurant you are looking at has received the following negative review:

“I’ve never had to wait this long for my food, it took 1.5 hours before we got our meal! Will never return.”

Red flag, right?

But wait, there’s more. The restaurant has left a comment underneath, only 1 day after the review was posted:

I’m very sorry to hear you didn’t have the most positive experience dining with us. We were understaffed the night you visited us, as 25 April is a public holiday (Liberation Day). Moreover, one of our chefs was sick and we couldn’t find a replacement in time. We take pride in the quality of our food and in creating a memorable evening for our guests. Therefore, I would like to offer you a 50% discount on your next meal with us. And I will personally come to your table and serve you your first drink. On the house.”  

After reading this, would you still give the restaurant a pass?

This restaurant owner understands the power of the 4 golden rules for responding to negative reviews. He:

  • Acted quickly
  • Showed empathy
  • Kept calm, and
  • Addressed the issue

You can do the same.


Here’s a PROVEN template I use to keep customers happy:

Dear [CUSTOMER],

Thank you for purchasing with us.

I would like to personally apologize for your experience with our [PRODUCT]. We strive to offer the 100% satisfaction for all our customers and will do whatever it takes to make you happy.

We would be happy to send you a replacement or issue you a full refund. Please contact us directly at [YOUR EMAIL] to resolve this issue for you.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to make this right

Sincerely,
[YOUR NAME]
[YOUR BUSINESS]

And if you play your cards right, you might even be able to convince the customer to remove or at least change the negative review.

But there’s one more thing you can do…

How to Drown a Negative Review With a Positive Review Flood

If you can’t change a negative review, there’s one more thing you can do. Remember how we mentioned that it takes an average of 12 positive reviews to make up for 1 negative?

You could generate more positive reviews to effectively bury the negative one. By doing this you will be moving that recent 1 star review further and further down the list so eventually it won’t be the first review customers see on your listing. And it’s not as difficult as you might think.

The most effective way of doing this is to get an email auto-responder, such as Rocket Reply (included in the AMZ Tracker subscription).

We’ve put together a high conversion template that has been proven to generate more reviews from your customers.

Simply edit to fit your needs.

Outline:

  • Email #1: Delivery Confirmation
    • Send out immediately after delivery to ensure that the product arrived safely.
  • Email #2: Product Follow-up
    • Send out 3 days after delivery to see if the customer has any questions and whether or not s(he) is happy with the product. Add additional value by providing tips or suggestions on how to use the product.
  • Email #3: Thank You (and Review-ask)
    • Send out 7 days after delivery. Again, inquire into how happy the customer is with the product, and ask for a review.

Templates:

Email #1:

Subject: Your Product Has Been Shipped!

Hi [NAME],

Thank you for ordering our [PRODUCT NAME]. Your order is on its way, and you should be receiving it shortly. You can track your delivery here: [ORDER LINK]

We’re a small business, and we make great effort to keep our customers happy. Therefore we want to ensure you are 100% happy with your product.

So once your order arrives, please let us know if you have any questions or if there are any problems with the product. We’ll be sure to address any issues as soon as possible.

In the meantime, let us know if you have any concerns.   

Best Regards,
[NAME]
[BUSINESS NAME]

Email #2:

Subject: Got Any Questions About Your [PRODUCT]?

Hi [NAME],

Thank you again for your purchase! We noticed that your product was delivered a few days ago, and wanted to check if you had any questions or concerns?

If you experienced any problems, just reply to this email today and we’ll make it right.

We’ve put a lot of effort into creating [PRODUCT NAME], and we really hope you enjoy it. To help you get the most out of it, we’ve put together a few accompanying [TIPS/RECIPES/GAMES/ETC].

You can find them here: [LINK TO TIPS]

If you are happy with your purchase, I’d really love it if you could leave us your feedback here: [FEEDBACK LINK]

Best Regards,
[NAME]
[BUSINESS NAME]

Email #3:

Subject: How Are You Enjoying Your [PRODUCT NAME]?

Hi [NAME],

It’s been around a week since you got your [PRODUCT] and we just wanted to check in and see how you were enjoying it?

Again: If there are ANY issues, just reply to this email and we’ll make it right.

But if you’re happy with your product, I’d like to ask a quick favor. As a small Amazon seller, we heavily rely on reviews. And I’d really appreciate it if you could leave us one here: [REVIEW LINK]

It should only take a couple of minutes, and it’d really make a huge difference for us.

We deeply value your honest feedback.

Thank you!

Best Regards,

[NAME]
[BUSINESS NAME]

Contacting customers through personalized emails gives you greater opportunities to ask customers for reviews and/or seller feedback.

What’s the right way to respond to negative reviews for YOUR individual business?

Responding to negative reviews doesn’t have to be difficult: Act quickly, show empathy, keep calm, and address the issue.  Simply follow the 4 Golden Rules, and you should be able to make it right most of the time. 

But if you’re stuck with a 1-star stinkbomb, you can always drown it. By selling a solid product, and backing it up with an effective email sequence, you’ll quickly generate plentiful of positive reviews.

Start your 7 day free AMZ Tracker trial today and get immediately notified about negative reviews!

(And get customer engagement tool – Rocket Reply – included to boost your organic positive reviews!)

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Pontus

Pontus is content editor and publisher for AMZ Tracker. He has a background in marketing and communications. Occasionally, he might write a post or two.

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